Prison Break



Exit Canada, located by the Aberdeen Canada Line stop


The Laboratory is the hardest room

Guidebook contributor Tanvi Bhatia recommends a thrilling “exit strategy” game in Richmond.
By Tanvi Bhatia
Being locked in a room with four strangers and very little idea of how to get out doesn’t sound like the ideal way to spend your Friday night, but fans of Richmond’s very own escape-the-room game, Exit, would beg to disagree.
As would the customers of many similar establishments spread throughout China and Japan, where the first real life escape games were conceived.
The idea can be credited to the popularity of virtual escape games that scatter the internet, where players enter a virtual room and look for clues, solve puzzles, and play mini-games in order to escape the room and consequently win the game.
The real life version goes something like this: You, along with five other people are taken, blindfolded, into a room. You are asked to leave your personal belongings outside to prevent anyone from having an unfair advantage. The rules of the game are explained to you, and then you’re left alone with your teammates, challenged with the task of finding your way out. If, at the end of your time slot, you haven’t escaped, someone will come let you out, but the goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Richmond’s Exit, owned by Jason Tang, is the first escape game to pop up on the west coast of Canada, though a similar game exist in Ontario. Nowhere else in BC can you find a game that challenges you in such a fun and innovative way. It is difficult without being stressful, enjoyable without being simple. It’s no surprise that room escape games are becoming increasingly popular, not just in Asia but across the globe.
At Exit, you get to choose between four rooms: The Lost Ship, Ancient Egypt, Prison Escape, and Laboratory Escape, each of varying levels of difficulty. Booking must be done in advance on the website, and the cost for one person is $22.99 plus tax which must be paid up front. Each room can hold up to six people, and if your group consists of less than five people, it’s likely you’ll be paired with another group.
I booked the Prison Escape room, which I was told was one of the more difficult ones. I went in confident—too confident, it seems, because escaping was a lot harder than I expected. Everything my team expected to be a clue was useless, and the objects deemed useless were clues. The rules state than you can ask for help two times; we used our first lifeline 30 minutes in to figure out the first puzzle, then the second one when there were only 10 minutes left. We only ended up getting through one lock in our allotted 45 minute time period, which went by a lot faster than we realized.
My team and I were so far from winning it was laughable – we didn’t even make it halfway through—but our failure was understandable, as the success rate for escaping is 1 percent.
After you’ve been let out, there are signs you can pose with to celebrate your success or failure. Pictures are posted on the Exit Facebook page.
If you ask me, Exit is a great place to spend your Friday night. Or any night, really. The problem-solving can take your mind off of just about anything, and if you do manage to escape the room, it’s practically guaranteed to brighten your day.